Our Go To Strength Exercises
We have a series of seven strengthening exercise that we do daily at practice to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of running related injuries. These seven were worked out with our strength coach at the Upper School so there will be some continuity as our athletes leave Middle School and vie for the varsity team. Here the team is doing explosive jumps. A note about explosive jumps- these accomplish a lot. But they are also, just plain fun! I use these as an example of exercises that runners do not expect to be useful, but are. These jumps use muscles that will come in handy for sprints at anytime during the race, but especially at a close finish to the line. These develop muscles to get you up hill and these develop muscles in your head. What do I mean by that, explosive jumps make you go through a series of motions that include balance (i.e. paying attention to where your body is to keep it upright). Training your brain to pay attention like this is key to effective racing.
We typically go through a variety of core strengthening and low level ab work because I find this age group as very little strength in their mid section. This is often done as bicycles. But anything will do, just be careful about going to fast and about pulling from your head. The key to core is slow, resistance. Once abs are dealt with we move to some common exercises starting in an elbow plank position, do sets of five leg lefts on each leg. Start with one set and work up to three. Toe should only come a few inches of ground to protect the lower back. Next is a side plank. Lift and lower a side plank, the plank is on the elbow. Start with sets of seven. Next, lying on one's back do bridges, but do one leg at a time by resting the ankle from one leg on the knee of the other. Work in sets of up to ten. You can hold the knee with your hands instead of placing an ankle on the opposite knee. This is easier to explain. But not easier to accomplish.
We start with sets of ten prisoner squats. These are full squats with your hands behind your head, keep tall. Then we do the explosive jumps. Start with hands up, swing down hard, then explode into a fully extended jump, landing with easy bent knees. Next do Bulgarian split squats using a low bench or just do a lunge squat, five on each leg, build up slowly to more. Finally is the single leg RDL, partly pictured here. Each one is three extensions, the first reach out straight, then reach hand down to touch the floor to the right, then to the left. Each time try to extend back leg fully level with back. Between each reach return to a full upright position, with only one foot on the floor and bring knee to up to waist high. Work up to balance. Lots of giggles on this, and there should be, have fun.
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